Do you know what I love about science? It is the ENDLESS discovery; the excitement of finding something really cool and learning along the way!
This summer while hiking with my daughters, we came across this pink and fuzzy THING on an oak leaf.
I had NO idea what it was! caterpillar, no….fungus, no, ….disease, no! I couldn’t figure it out. We saved the mysterious object in the refrigerator and, off and on for weeks, we searched online trying to solve the mystery.
Finally, during a fly fishing demo, we spoke with a Park Ranger, and she knew just what it was! It was an insect gall. Insect galls are growths that develop on plants. The plant reacts to a wound created by the insect. Apparently, a gall wasp, Callirhytis furva, will implant an egg into a leaf of an oak tree. After the egg turns into a larva it will cause the oak tree to grow this pink and fuzzy gall on the leaf. The larva will then grow while it is protected by a hard, fuzzy gall covering. Isn’t that cool?
My girls and I were incredibly excited about the search for information about this unknown object. I must admit that the search itself was even more exciting than finding out the answer!
This is one of the most fantastic and addicting parts of science…the search for information! I have found that, in science, as more knowledge is gained, more questions are created. Doesn’t this picture make you want to know more about the gall wasp? I bet you can’t wait to learn more about it! 🙂
Go for a walk with the children that you know to look for galls and rear the insects at home. Encourage their questions as you all make discoveries! We had many more questions after our findings: What does a gall wasp look like? Does it have pink and yellow on its body? Do all oak trees make galls with that color combination? The questions are endless…and so are the answers!
We hope that you enjoy the fall and have some exciting discoveries together! We would love to hear about your science adventures! Please feel free to comment.